Top 6 best practices to improve your sales process
I’ve seen the eye rolls and heard the not-so-concealed sighs.
Just try mentioning the words “implement” and “process” within the same breath at any sales team meeting, and you’re bound to get that reaction. (Not that I wasn’t guilty myself a time or two.)
But after decades of sales team leadership, I can tell you that the sales process does not deserve its bad rap as mundane. It is a vital component of any successful, competitive business. It drives profitability because weaknesses and duplications can be easily spotted and replaced with improvements.
The structure provided by a process, while seemingly rigid, allows agility because time and energy are directed toward creativity rather than recreating the wheel. The comforting consistency of a process leads to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.
In sales, you can have the best reps and incentive plans, but without processes in place, they may just be spinning wheels. Here are a few points I know to be valuable in creating a guided process for selling:
1. Work around the prospect’s process
Identify how customers typically buy from you. Your prospects may approach a managed services deal much differently than a one-time installation. Every solution has a unique buying cycle, and so should your sales activities. Analyze and adjust your mix sales activities (discovery calls, on-site meetings, demonstrations, quotes, follow-up, and closing) to be in step with your client’s actual buying process.
When it comes to increasing customer satisfaction and retaining loyalty, it all comes down to creating a consistent buying experience. There are a few factors that could affect your chances of winning and losing deals, such as building detailed and professional sales quotes, the timely delivery of your proposal, and the process between quote acceptance and goods delivery.
Remove time-consuming variables with an automated quote and proposal software to keep your sales team focused on what matters—selling and improving your bottom line. With ConnectWise CPQ™, your sales process becomes optimized and integrated, ensuring that you never leave money on the table again.
Understand how your customers feel about your service with SmileBack™, a customer feedback system built on Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS), designed specifically for managed service providers (MSPs). With actionable insights that allow you to tailor your services to your clients’ unique needs, you can optimize the efficiency of your operations, retain more customers, and generate new leads.
2. Collaboration is key
I can’t say it enough. It’s imperative to include your sales team’s input when you’re working on streamlining your business processes. Collaboration earns buy-in, making the trial-and-error journey of any new process a lot less bumpy when everyone is travelling together towards a commonly desired destination.
To encourage collaboration between teams, start with improving internal communication to connect the dots in your business operations. With a professional service automation (PSA) software like ConnectWise PSA™, your teams have visibility on the latest developments within the organization. When your teams move towards a bigger goal, it increases the management’s confidence in the ability to sustain and grow a happy customer base.
3. Automate whenever possible
Not only does automation eliminate guesswork, lighten loads, and eliminate human errors, but it helps you stay on top of what could otherwise be missed opportunities. If you’re still using spreadsheets and emails and feel like you’re still micromanaging your team, it’s time to implement a business management platform or CRM tool.
As an IT solution provider (TSP), your communication with prospective and active customers should remain active and consistent, ensuring that no opportunity goes cold or gets lost. When you streamline your sales processes by automating simple follow-up activities such as phone calls and emails, it becomes easier to keep your sales team on track with their KPIs.
Keeping cross-functional groups and management teams in the loop about the status of every opportunity is key to keeping accountability, but it can be rather time-consuming. With automatic notifications, stakeholders are informed about deals in flight, renewals status, and won opportunities. This provides an effective flow of information that boost productivity for your organization.
Building quotes and proposals are part of your sales team’s job, but it shouldn’t take up a large chunk of their time. With the powerful automation of ConnectWise CPQ, professional quote templates, workflows, pricing automation, and so much more are at your sales team’s fingertips—making quote and proposal creation accurate, fast, and painless.
4. Define standards
Standardization takes the guesswork out of your sales process—and makes training much easier—so scaling your business becomes a cinch. It provides a predictable flow and measurement for all activities. Smoothing out operations benefits both your sales team and customers by removing the opportunity for knee-jerk reactions.by removing the opportunity for knee-jerk reactions.
Much like placing limit orders when buying stocks, you can also standardize an array of services to help you maximize profitability. Even though customizing your offerings to your customer needs may be a good strategy at the start, it can negatively impact your efficiency and productivity as you grow. By having an understanding of your regular costs, as well as what other vendors are offering, you can standardize your service discounts and pricing model to make selling easier and repeatable for your sales reps. When you have a well-researched pricing model in place, you can shift your strategy to remain attractive to clients. As a result, you can protect shrinking margins and better predict your bottom-line revenue—intelligently and automatically.
5. Visibility leads to success
If you don’t have a handle on the status of your sales, you can’t effectively manage goals—and no one likes a micromanager. Real-time visibility to pipeline and team performance frees you from having to ask your team for updates.
It’s not realistic to think a sales team individual will step forward to announce they’re performing poorly, whether by their own fault or outside circumstances. Automated tools provide documentation that allows you to proactively view and manage every step of sales, letting you change course before it’s too late.
With real-time intelligent quote tracking, your sales team has complete visibility when a client interacts with your quote. When they get insight into how clients are digesting their proposals, they have the intel needed to take the best step to seal the deal—whether it’s in the form of a follow-up email or phone call.
Knowledge and visibility are key components of a successful TSP business. Leverage the ConnectWise PSA reporting engine to make data-driven decisions with insights and up-to-minute metrics across all areas of your business.
6. Create accountability
To be successful, sales team members and managers must stay on top of where every deal stands. It’s well worth the investment in a customer relationship that notes every activity as it’s performed, making accountability an automated breeze.
It can be challenging to stay on top of renewal opportunities when your sales team is also focused on bringing in new clients. A high-functioning CRM tool is the answer to taking advantage of opportunities to renew an agreement, extend an expired warranty or upgrade aging equipment. When renewal reminders are delivered internally and externally at the right time, you are in a better position to market your business and close more deals.
Your entire organization—marketing, sales, support, and finance—will manage customer relationships at some point in the customer journey. Use automation to your advantage to make updates to your CRM as you work on prospective opportunities and win deals. Gathering, organizing, and presenting customer data effectively helps all departments collaborate in real-time and make better decisions to drive success.
Regardless of company size, every sales team will benefit from streamlined processes. However, there needs to be a careful balance. A lack of processes can easily throw you off track, while too much may threaten to tie you down. However, when you carefully define, develop, and automate your sales process, you encourage creativity and flexibility within your team. With the ability to solve problems easier and faster than before, you can collectively fuel business success as an industry-leading TSP.